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CLONYC 25. Two Hands Wines with Michael Twelftree

Last night the CLONYC gang had the distinct pleasure of meeting and hosting an Australian legend in winemaking, Mr. Michael Twelftree and a dozen of his new releases. The room was quiet, probably as quiet as I have ever heard it in the three or so years we have been in this private room at North Square, as all ears were on Michael as he spoke passionately about his babies-- his wines.

It was a wonderful night with filled with fantastic company, great wines and delicious food. Enough with the pleasantries and let me get onto the wines. In honor of my Aussie friend Michael T, I am listing them upside-down.

2008 Ares Shiraz, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, South Australia(Served last, noted first and so on…)WOW, this was intense and deep with purity and focus that is near mind-boggling. The nose hinted a bit of sweetness, but the palate exploded with balance and lush black, blue and red fruits. Fantastically structured with firm tannins and a fine acidity. Some spice, some leather and some warmed over river stones. Earlier in the night Michael spoke of the one thing all great wines of the world need and should be expected, and that is a great finish. This bottle of wine reveals how true to that belief he is. The finish just went on for what seemed an eternity and well after I finally shut my trap from speaking did I realize I still tasted those fruit notes, and if you know me you know that can be many minutes….Fantastic.

2009 Aphrodite Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley, South AustraliaI do love me a well made Cabernet, and this one goes beyond well made, quickly. Nose of black fruits like currant and plums with black cherries. Upon entering the mouth you get an explosion in many directions. This is multi-layered and pure with a cool underlying lushness that screams, albeit quietly, class. Dark as night, this full bodied wine is the iron fist velvet glove times 3. Upon first taste, I bid for mikes attention and could only blurt out ‘This Aphrodite? Holy sh*t!’. And I was not exaggerating. It’s the schnozzle. Menthol notes with hints of vanilla and newly rubbed leather, this had the 350 yard finish too. Wowser.

2009 Aerope Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Not well versed in Grenache, and working lately to change that, this was feminine and elegant with a red fruit profile of cherries & strawberries; this was a playful fun wine with a nice dose of liltiness or bounce. A nice wine I wish I could spend an evening with on its own.

2009 Coach House Block Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia(A single vineyard bottling) This had amazing textural nuances that were woven with a red/black fruit profile. A hint of sweetness and a mouth coating quality that hinted Napa slightly, this was pure and rambunctious. I love rambunctiousness. Very nice.

2009 Zippy’s Block Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia(A single vineyard bottling) This has a fine red fruited profile of bing-cherries and raspberries with some violets and white lavender. A pretty wine with an amazing mid to light weighted moutfeel, this seemed to sit higher on the palate than anything after it or before it save for the Sofie’s and Sam’s which was actually before it, but listed here---after it. Follow that because I’m lost.This carried a firm tannic structure and lithe acidity. Decent finish and Bob’s your uncle.

2009 Barneys Block Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia(A single vineyard bottling) Firmly backboned and somewhat austere, this had some black currant, blueberries with some late spring flowers. Nicely structured, this had a decent finish that remained true. An Interesting drop.

2009 Windmill Block Shiraz. (A single vineyard bottling)This was actually the first single vineyard bottling served on the night and its difference was starling since it was served with 2 of the Garden Series wines, albeit the last two and the more firmly structured of the five. Dark and ominous, this seemed almost foreboding. Black and red fruits of currant, raspberries and pomegranate with hints of warm blueberry compote. I loved its delivery system that seems to just carry it forward; this will be a stunner in a few years. Very nice indeed.

Moving onto (or from) the Garden series wines, this all had distinct characteristics that’s only resemblance is the purity and joy. Beyond we have something for everyone, and some of that in different doses.

2009 Sophie’s Garden Shiraz Padthaway. This cool climate Shiraz shows a pure intensity and a mid-palate that seems to ‘pop’. Pretty clove and an almost tomato leaf quality, this had great balance and charisma. I really enjoyed this one and compared it mostly to the previously tasted, (but after noted) Samantha’s Garden. The nose is all you need to experience on these two to realize your smile will be commencing real soon. Love it.

2009 Bella’s Garden McLaren Vale, South Australia. Of all the garden Series wines we had this night, even of all the wines in total, this seemed the most Northern Rhone in its approach. It had finely delineated tannins with some earth tones. Almost quiet when compared to its siblings, this was long and graceful.

2009 Lily’s Garden Barossa Valley, South Australia. Cherries and strawberry, this had an uplifting mouthfeel with slightly chewy tannic structure. A nice wine that really showed some McLaren character, this just sang joy.

2009 Samantha’s Garden Clare Valley, South Australia. Cool menthol and cool climate, this was red fruited and harmonious, but again, and like the Sofie’s, the nose told you what was coming and it was all good. Medium to light weighted, this had a silkiness that along with the fruit did not want to leave your tongue. I will seek this one out ASAP.

2009 Max’s Garden Shiraz, Heathcote, Australia. I think I have an affinity to Heathcote wines that started a few years back. I have always loved the cool climate qualities these showcase. This is pretty blueberry and pomegranate with some austerity. Lovely crushed river stones and soy with hints of leather. A great start…or finish, depending how you are playing along.

A great night in CLONYC history, one that will be remembered for a long while. A big thank you to fellow board member, Michael Twelftree for traveling a few kilometers to meet with aficionados like us. We are one lucky group indeed.

Let me find my soap-box for just a bit: There is a tremendous misconception in the air about todays Aussie wines. Tonight's tasting debunks this misnomer big time. These are not the syrupy fruit bomb wines that many think of when they think Australian red wines. They have wonderful balance and character, while remaining true to the soil, sun and most importantly...vision.